How Yoga Can Help Keep You Healthy and Vibrant

by Natalie on August 23, 2011

Ever thought about taking a yoga class? If you are passionate about prevention, yoga may just be the perfect thing to incorporate into your lifestyle.

I absolutely love yoga! Throughout my life I have done a lot of different sports and exercise, but nothing has ever made me feel as good or as strong as yoga. I have now been practicing regularly for the past 3 years and have loved every minute of it. As some of you know, I decided to complete my teacher training this summer. I am really looking forward to teaching others this great practice!

During my training I couldn’t help but think about how yoga can add to my prevention lifestyle. Two main reasons jumped out at me.

#1 Decrease Stress

Stress….The word alone makes me feel crazy. All of us have it, some more than others. I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t have stress in some form.

We often only think about stress as a mental thing but it is also physical.

The body releases hormones to help us deal with stress. These hormones increase blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugar. High levels of stress hormones are physically taxing on the body.

One of the worst things about stress is that it decreases our immune function, making it difficult for us to prevent sickness or heal from sickness.

A traditional yoga class will include breathing exercises (pranayama) and physical postures (asanas); both of which work to relieve stress. Longer yoga classes may even allow time for meditation.

#2 Maintain A Healthy Weight

Being overweight is one of the biggest risk factors for cancer and other chronic disease.

Practicing yoga regularly can help keep you in shape. And no, you don’t need to do hot yoga to reap the physical rewards. If you do them correctly, even some of the most “easy” yoga poses can be challenging!

I have found that the biggest physical benefit for me has come from learning how to align my body correctly in the poses. When you really take time to feel the poses, you will receive more benefits.

How To Start Doing Yoga

If you want to start doing yoga but feel self conscious about attending a yoga class, don’t worry – you’re not alone.

I realize that yoga can be somewhat intimidating at first. I felt the same way when I first started too. It is helpful to remember that every body starts at square one. No one comes out of the womb doing a downward facing dog! The people who you see in classes that are really “good” have been practicing for years and years. And that’s the best part – the more you do it, the better you get.

Now that you’ve heard my little shcpeel, lets talk about the nuts and bolts. If your interested in trying yoga, check your local gyms or yoga centers for classes. At a studio, a typical yoga class runs from $10 to $20. In my area they are mostly around $20. Many yoga studios run specials for new students, so you definitely want to take advantage of that. A lot of gyms offer yoga in their group fitness classes which is included in your membership.

If you are new to yoga I highly recommend taking a basics or beginner class. These classes take more time to instruct on proper alignment in the poses. They also help build strength for more challenging poses. You should only progress to the more advanced levels when you have a good handle on the basics. Most classes are 60 to 90 minutes long.

You may also want to consider taking yoga in the comfort of your own home by watching videos. Your local library should have videos to check out in their fitness section. There are some online yoga classes as well. I have personally used and liked Yoga Today. They offer downloadable classes for $3.99 a pop. They also have a free weekly class. I also want you to know that I don’t recommend only doing yoga at home. There are huge benefits for taking a class with a real live yoga teacher. One of the reasons is that they can tell you if you are doing the poses safely and correctly; something very important that a virtual teacher cannot do.

You do not need to own a yoga mat to go to a class. All studios will have one you can borrow. If you practice yoga a lot, I recommend getting your own mat.

This may sound silly but another little helpful tip I wish I would have known when I first started, is to wear tighter clothing. Many of the poses have your body in positions that cause your clothes to shift. If you wear a really baggy t-shirt, you will spend the whole class pulling your shirt down.

I hope you enjoy taking your first yoga class! Do you already do yoga regularly? Tell me what you think about it. Leave a comment in the comment box below.

Linsday August 24, 2011 at 9:02 am

Love it!

Natalie August 24, 2011 at 11:48 am

Thanks Lindsay!

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